Bringing Scholarship Back to Middle East Studies

Oct. 27 2016

The War on Error: Israel, Islam, and the Middle East contains 25 essays by the historian Martin Kramer on a variety of topics. Jonathan Marks notes that underlying these pieces, some of which were first published in Mosaic, is Kramer’s commitment to pursuing the truth through rigorous scholarship, even when he himself admits he is far from dispassionate about the subject matter. In one essay, Kramer dismantles an unfounded claim made repeatedly by the Columbia historian and Edward Said protégé Rashid Khalidi—and, in doing so, makes the contrast between himself and so many in his field especially stark:

In 2010, Khalidi spread in more than one lecture the claim that the influential novel Exodus, though written by Leon Uris, was “carefully crafted propaganda” guided by “seasoned professionals.” Foremost among them was Edward Gottlieb, regarded by some as “one of the founders of the modern public-relations industry.” . . . There is only one problem: not one thing Khalidi says, in his role as distinguished historian, appears to be true. . . . [T]he story is a fabrication, one anti-Israel authors are so desperate to believe that they rely on an ancient public-relations how-to [manual] without checking the story. . . .

[In other words, Khalidi] showed himself [to be] “someone eager to repeat and embellish a story simply because of its political utility, without even a cursory check of its historical veracity.”

Khalidi’s canard is an example of, in Kramer’s words, “fantasies of Jewish power and control” finding their way into respectable realms of academia.

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Read more at Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

More about: Academia, Edward Said, History & Ideas, Leon Uris, Martin Kramer, Middle East, Rashid Khalidi

Israeli Indecision on the Palestinian Issue Is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

Oct. 11 2019

In their recent book Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny, Dennis Ross and David Makovsky—who both have had long careers as Middle East experts inside and outside the U.S. government—analyze the “courageous decisions” made by David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzḥak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon. Not coincidentally, three of these four decisions involved territorial concessions. Ross and Makovsky use the book’s final chapter to compare their profiles in courage with Benjamin Netanyahu’s cautious approach on the Palestinian front. Calling this an “almost cartoonish juxtaposition,” Haviv Rettig Gur writes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli history, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict